Sunday, 18 January 2015

Uncle Frank

John Franklin Boulton (1925-2014)

John Franklin Boulton was born August 24, 1925 to Thomas Boulton and Elsie Bushby, the sixth of eight children.  The photo above was taken when he was 4 or 5 years old with the dog called Fannie.  He told me that remembered this picture being taken with an old Brownie camera as he was facing west right where the driveway at the farm is now.  The absence of trees behind him makes it look so different from today.  I am told that Frank had red hair and it looks like it was a thick curly head of hair!  

Frank with his grandmother Ann and sister Mary about 1929
Frank and Faye Boulton, Raymond White
Besides his parents, sisters and brother, there were several other family members living in the home Frank grew up in.  His father Thomas' bachelor brother Anthony, widowed brother Herb and their mother Ann shared the home and meals with them in the thirties and forties. They also had hired men during the busy seasons that needed to be fed.  It must have been a constant chore to make a meal and clean up from the last one.  Frank recalled fondly how his mother was able to do it with whatever she had on hand or could grow or pick, very little was bought in a store.

Mary and Frank Boulton
Jean and Frank Boulton
Frank, Edwin, Anthony Boulton

Frank attended Kinloss School except for one year when the school was closed due to lack of pupils. That year, he lived in town with his Aunt Susie and Uncle Hazen Bigney during the week, especially in the winter. He had many fond memories of this couple and remembered how kind they always were to him.
Frank began farming alongside his older brother Edwin and his Dad and Uncle Anthony. He saw huge changes in farming over the 50 plus years he was actively involved from horses to large scale machinery.
Frank behind a six horse team

Perhaps one of the funniest (or most horrifying) stories he liked to tell me was about one day when they were cleaning granaries and as he was kneeling down, a mouse ran up the pant leg of his coveralls . He grabbed the mouse with one hand on the outside of his pants and ripped his coveralls off with the other. That's a story I've never forgot, especially in long grass near granaries!
Russell Boulton on Frank's knee
Uncle Frank had an important role as a caregiver at the Boulton home, especially after the death of his sister in law Merle in 1959.  He was often tasked with picking up the nephews Rick, Russell and Randy and getting them where they needed to go and then in later years did the same with his great nephews.  Frank kept busy on the farm with his chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys including an ornery pair of Chinese geese. There was always a dog, a collie named Laddie was the last.  Cats and kittens were given a pat and some kibble too. His garden north of the house was his pride - tomatoes, corn, potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, later pumpkins for the kids.  He proudly acquired a John Deere Model A in the 1990's.  

Great nephews with Frank on his 89th birthday
He had a soft spot for kids - Wilma's boys Drew and Stewart brought a spring back into his step and he was pressed into babysitting and chauffeuring duties with the arrival of Jarrett, Joel and Scott.  A spoonful of sugar right from the sugar bowl at coffee time was a special treat!  My boys also remember asking him for their favorites - a cold wieners to be "toasted" over the humidifier and ice tea mix with boiling water when they stayed with Uncle Frank.

In 2003, Frank moved into the Willowview Personal Care Home in Reston.  Losing his independence and being unable to drive his treasured red 1994 GMC Sierra was difficult for him.  Once he realized he could leave for a walk or a visit to the farm, he adapted and it was easier for him to cope.  He kept busy with the many activities at the home - puzzles, crokinole, Handivan Trips, Quiz Nights and Pub Nights.  

I wonder if he knew about the difference that he made in so many people's lives in his years living there as they've told us in the last few weeks. Uncle Frank was so welcoming and friendly to everyone's visitors, he made all feel welcome there.  He never said anything but,"Hello" in his special way when he first saw you - a greeting that everyone who knew him will miss.  He was one of the few residents given the passcode to the exit doors!

Frank seemed to enjoy telling me about the old days and his memories of his parents and family.  He never seemed to tire of answering my questions or telling me who was in the latest picture I found without names on the back!  His memory never seemed to fail him, he could tell what crop was sown on which quarter in what year and how it turned out.  It was amazing!

Frank had bright blue eyes that would twinkle when he had a story to tell and a smile that came right from his toes.  Staff of the Willowview have told me he was easy to love and made each and every one of them feel special.  He was known for watching the weather channel and kept track of the sunrise and sunset times each day.  He was also known for keeping watch over the bird feeder and knowing whose turn it was for a bath.  It must have been sad for him when old friends and new acquaintance would come into the home only to pass away.  He lived there nine years until his time came too on a calm December night right before Winter Solstice.

Russell, Rick and Randy with Uncle Frank - Aug 2014
We count ourselves among the lucky ones to have known and loved Uncle Frank.  His memory will live on in our minds and hearts.

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